BEIJING: China said on Thursday that foreign airlines banned from operating in the country for fear of viruses would be allowed to resume limited flights, apparently defusing an argument with Washington over US plans to ban Chinese carriers.
Beijing’s announcement comes as tensions between the world’s two superpowers are swelled by a series of issues, including Donald Trump’s accusations of China’s handling of the pandemic, Hong Kong and Huawei.
The latest spit was rooted in the decision of the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority (CAAC) to impose a limit on foreign airlines based on their activity as of March 12. Because the American carriers had suspended all flights on this date, their ceiling was set at zero. The flights of the Chinese carriers to the United States continued.
The United States announced on Wednesday that it will block Chinese passenger flights from June 16, raising fears of another front in the economic titans’ stalemate.
But CAAC said on Thursday that all foreign airlines not listed on the March 12 schedule will now be able to operate an international route to China every week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian regretted the US move, adding that the CAAC is making “statutory declarations” on the matter.
Asked whether the latest CAAC opinion means the United States will be able to file resumption of flight requests, Zhao said the Chinese Aeronautical Authority and the United States Department of Transportation have kept close communication on the flight agreements between the two countries.
“Originally, the two sides had made progress,” he said in a regular press briefing, adding that China hopes the United States will “not create obstacles” to work. of both parties to solve the problem.
Washington-Beijing relations have become increasingly strained in recent months after Trump accused China of intentionally causing the virus, while plans to impose strict security law in Hong Kong have considerably increased tensions.
The United States has also imposed restrictions on the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and has ordered an investigation into the actions of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets.
For its part, Beijing mocked the American position on Hong Kong in light of civil rights protests across the United States after the murder of the Minneapolis police of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man .
At the same time, China has gradually eased the strict airline travel limits of some foreign companies, with the country’s coronavirus epidemic appearing to be under control.
China has fast-track entry procedures for business travelers from several other countries, including Singapore and South Korea. Hundreds of Germans were also able to return.
Beijing said last week that it would almost triple the number of authorized flights to and from China in June following an outcry from stranded Chinese overseas.
Passengers must undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the country.
CAAC said on Thursday that routes whose passengers have all tested negative for three consecutive weeks will be allowed to operate an additional flight each week.
Routes with five or more passengers who test positive will be suspended for at least a week, the CAAC said.